in Paris, fashion responds to the echoes of the world

Nothing seems to stop fashion weeks, not even Covid which, in 2020 and 2021, simply turned them “digital”. But it is not because they return with the regularity of a Swiss cuckoo clock that those who do live in a bubble cut off from the world. For this Spring-Summer 2023 Paris Fashion Week, which runs from September 26 to October 4, we see a certain fever among some designers, a growing concern about the challenges of our time, be it global warming, human rights raped women, the war in Ukraine or the victories of the extreme right in Europe.

“Time is tough. At first we thought we just had to get through Covid, but we don’t see the end.”, Roman Maria Grazia Chiuri admits, they met the day after Giorgia Meloni’s victory in the Italian legislative elections. Since her arrival as artistic director of women’s lines at Dior in 2016, she has placed feminism at the center of her work (and sometimes at the center of her message t-shirts as well). This season again, she is a woman, Eva Jospin, who designed the decoration of the show, and the main source of inspiration for Maria Grazia Chuiri is a woman of power, Catherine de Medici.

The parade takes place in the Tuileries garden, which was created at the initiative of the Italian, who arrived at the court of France in 1533. There she organized baroque balls, and it was this idea of ​​a party that captivated the designer. “In this difficult period, the role of fashion is to make people dream. I wanted to put on a real show with these ballerina-statues [de la troupe d’Imre et Marne van Opstal] that move through this incredible place, between an enchanted garden and a baroque grotto. » The reference to Catherine de Medici can also be read in the costumes: there are decorative, but not restrictive, corsets that appear like breastplates over a T-shirt; XXL lace basket skirts; many laces that Maria Grazia Chiuri loves and perfects every season. The royal allusion does not prevent the collection from adopting a certain sobriety, keeping to black, beige and white tones. Some colorful embroidered flowers slip into the summer jackets, the coats richly embellished with floral and animal motifs are made of raffia, a fiber from the palm tree, which looks like rope. As if, in these times of crisis, a certain stylistic moderation was necessary.

Balmain’s eco-responsible twist

At Balmain, Olivier Rousteing also wanted “to offer a dream moment, open to all” to alleviate the current collective anxieties. Therefore, it reiterates its “Balmain Festival”, parade/concert already presented in 2019 and 2021. On September 28, 8,200 people gathered at the Stade Jean-Bouin, 1,200 guests and 7,000 tickets sold, the entire proceeds of which are donated to the RED association, which fights AIDS . The collection is, as always, devilishly sexy with tight, short and draped dresses, fabric braids covering the breasts and transparencies everywhere.


But this season, Rousteing has integrated eco-responsible materials, recycled banana skins injected into fabrics, eco-certified linen, raffia or transformed wood into sculptural dresses. “This collection is a declaration of love to the planet. I am very anxious about climate change and what we are going to leave for the next generation. The forest fires that have broken out around the world this summer have shocked me deeply”says the creator. A trauma that transforms into a motif of flames in the last silhouettes, to better tame it. There are also engravings with paintings and writings by Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, “artists and scientists who questioned the state of the world and were considered insane”.

“Glass is both hard and brittle:
It seemed to me the correct symbol of the world we are evolving in at the moment. » Dry Van Noten

For Dries Van Noten, the season marks a return to the women’s ready-to-wear show, as the pandemic forced Fleming to reveal his creations on video from March 2020. No great decorum for the occasion, but a disused car park for a crescendo in three acts. The first silhouettes, entirely black, are followed by plain pastel tones (aqua green men’s jacket, soft pink evening dress with gathered edges, etc.) and, finally, a frenzy of floral prints, the Belgian’s specialty. “In the past, some collections may have had a festive dimension. However, I thought that festive, with regard to today, was not the right mood: rather I wanted to suggest an optimism, which seems more appropriate to me, Van Noten points out. i started from scratch black square of Malevich, before gaining momentum. »

Dry Van Noten.

An exceptional colorist, the designer also enjoys layering textures and reliefs, especially this season, using gowns, fringes, ruffles, embellished with crystal jewelry, spherical or stretched vertically. “Glass is both hard and brittle – it seemed to me the correct symbol of the world we are evolving in at the moment. »

Gabriela Hearst goes into crisis

Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter of the Botter duo, winners of the Andam Grand Prix in June and whose Caribbean origins have always been an inspiration, continue their exploration of the aquatic theme. In a world of mounting ecological anxiety, his collection of rope tops, scale print shirts, rhinestone dolphin tees is gradually taking on the appearance of a manifesto for the preservation of the oceans without losing any of the discrepancy that makes the salt of your work. The models wear bags made from blocks of melted ice, with a pair of fins, futuristic sneakers on “eco-responsible rubber” translucent, giving the impression that the models are walking on water, their hands wrapped in latex gloves filled with a turquoise liquid (“Made with the largest condoms available”).


“We must alert and evolve, pleads the couple. We look for new materials »like these fabrics made entirely from seaweed that make up cardigans or skirts with sleeves tied around the neck. “Today, fashion pursues the modernity of the streets. It’s up to us designers to go further by listening to what’s going on in the world and translating it into our collections. »

Also read: At Paris Fashion Week, Beauty Doesn’t (Always) Tell Stories

Climate change also obsesses Gabriela Hearst, who wants her collections at Chloé to highlight solutions. Last winter, she spoke about rebuilding. This time, it is nuclear fusion, a nuclear reaction in which two atomic nuclei join together to form a heavier nucleus, that draws her attention. The New York-based Uruguayan visited several thermonuclear reactors, including ITER, an international civil nuclear research reactor project located in Bouches-du-Rhône. “Nuclear fusion is one of the most ambitious projects that the human being has carried out, it is a fascinating subject and while exploring it I realized that we were close to the goal”, the designer enthuses. Nuclear fusion has the advantage of releasing a colossal amount of energy and not producing radioactive waste, so it could represent a new source of energy capable of replacing fossil fuels; but, so far, the research work carried out for seventy years all over the world to find an industrial application for nuclear fusion has never been successful.


Gabriela Hearst uses her fashion show to popularize this scientific subject little known to the public. “It is very stimulating to visually express what I have learned and reflect it in the clothes”, she says. The scientific references mostly take geometric forms, such as perforations with a metal edge or leather cords that run along the spine of a leather jacket, colored circles that develop a visual language next to a dress also in leather: a beautiful summer wardrobe. based on long knitted dresses and well-tailored cuts. Gabriela Hearst knows how to make beautiful clothes, but the one she laughs at is “ready to leave fashion behind to work on nuclear fusion” He seems to think there is something more important today.

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